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The 16 Best Hand Creams to Help You Level Up Your Hand Care (Yes, That’s a Thing)

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Photo by Grace Cary / Getty Images

Between our everyday activities and a heightened focus on handwashing and sanitizer, the skin on our hands could use a little extra TLC. Just like facial moisturizers and body lotions are formulated to work for specific areas, the rich consistency of hand creams is specially designed to deliver deep, long-lasting hydration to those precious digits. And while they may feel heavy at first, creams and ointments tend to be the most hydrating, says dermatologist Carmen Castilla, MD.

When searching for the best hand cream for you, Dr. Castilla says you should look for three key ingredients: humectants, occlusives, and emollients. "Humectants, such as alpha hydroxy acids, aloe vera, hyaluronic acid, glycerin, and urea, help hydrate the skin by drawing water into the outer skin layer. Emollients, such as ceramides, fatty acids, and lipids, help fill in the gaps between skin cells, softening the skin. And occlusives, such as lanolin, mineral oils, and petroleum [like Vaseline], create a barrier to help trap in moisture." If you have sensitive skin, "stay away from alcohols and fragrances, as these can be very irritating," adds Dr. Castilla.

Ready to start taking your hand care seriously? Here are the 16 best hand creams to help keep your hands soft, healthy, and hydrated.


About the Expert:

Carmen Castilla, MD, is a board-certified dermatologist at the New York Dermatology Group.

The Best Hand Creams

1. Best Anti-Aging Hand Cream:

AHAVA Smoothing Hand Cream in Kale & Turmeric

AHAVA Smoothing Hand Cream in Kale & Turmeric

No need to bury your chapped hands in your pockets. Anti-inflammatory turmeric, antioxidant kale, and AHAVA’s own Osmoter™ (a signature blend of Dead Sea minerals) combine forces to help soothe, smooth, and hydrate your hands while also helping to protect against signs of aging.

2. Best Spa-Scented Hand Cream:

PEAR NOVA Hydrating Cream in Coconut & Eucalyptus

PEAR NOVA Hydrating Cream in Coconut & Eucalyptus

This moisturizing hand cream from PEAR NOVA checks all the right boxes. It’s lightweight, non-greasy, fast-absorbing, and deeply moisturizes dry skin for long-lasting smoothness hydration. And the coconut and eucalyptus scent? We’re obsessed. “This smells HEAVENLY! It absorbed well and left my hands feeling hydrated,” said one Ipster after receiving this hand cream in a recent Glam Bag.

3. Best for After-Sun Care:

THE ORGANIC PHARMACY Hand Cream

THE ORGANIC PHARMACY Hand Cream

If you spent a little too much time in the sun and forgot to reapply your SPF, reach for this hydrating hand cream that’s made with aloe vera, jojoba oil, comfrey, and shea butter to replenish moisture, soothe irritation, and reduce swelling from your lack of sunscreen. Just one application leaves you with super soft skin. These rave reviews sum it up perfectly. “This cream made my hands so smooth and soft,” says one Ipster review. Another says, “I live in Arizona, so the heat in the summer makes my hands dry and cracked, and this lotion makes my hands soft. It’s perfect.”

4. Most Vanity-Worthy Hand Cream:

LIBRARY OF FLOWERS Honeycomb Handcreme

LIBRARY OF FLOWERS Honeycomb Handcreme

The ingredients in this luxe hand cream read like an A-list movie cast (and it’s housed in an equally stunning floral aluminum tube!). Heavy-duty shea butter, cocoa butter, argan oil, macadamia seed oil, and avocado oil all work together to condition the hands without leaving any greasy residue behind. All that’s left behind is the sweet scent combo of figs, honey, and beeblossom.

"Smells heavenly! It's a thicker cream which is wonderful with all the constant hand washing these days," one Ipster said in their review. "It's not sticky or greasy—pretty big for a hand cream too."

5. Best French Hand Cream:

LA CHATELAINE Hand Cream in Passion Fruit

LA CHATELAINE Hand Cream in Passion Fruit

We'll trust just about any skincare product and beauty tip the French swear by, and this hand cream is no exception. Packed with nourishing shea butter and argan oil, this hand salve is a go-to solution for anyone experiencing dry, chapped skin from cold weather and lots of hand sanitizer. This formula is also all natural and made with organic ingredients so you can feel good lathering it on every day. "This hand cream is very smooth and hydrating," reviewed an Ipster. "It's the perfect size for carrying around in your purse."

6. Best Hydration Boost:

MERCI HANDY Hand Cream in Hello Sunshine

MERCI HANDY Hand Cream in Hello Sunshine

Whenever you're looking for a brief escape from cold weather, simply lather on this vacay-scented hand cream. Take a closer look at this lotion's texture, and you'll notice tiny yellow specs. These are emollient pearls that add an extra moisture boost to skin. "With all the hand washing I've been doing these past few months, I've needed something rich, creamy, and hydrating to combat all the cracks and dryness," writes one Ipster. "This is totally the right thing for the job!"

7. Fastest Absorbing Hand Cream:

THE SAEM Perfumed Hand Essence in Magnolia

THE SAEM Perfumed Hand Essence in Magnolia

When you need something ultra lightweight, reach for this quick-absorbing lotion. Although the formula feels weightless on your skin, it still comes with major hydration benefits thanks to ingredients like macadamia seed oil, olive oil, and argan oil. One Ipster describes this formula as "not greasy at all with a very mild scent." They add: "It's my go-to in my work bag to combat 12+ hours of hand sanitizer use."

8. Great Multitasking Hand Cream:

BAREFOOT VENUS Wild Flower Instant Hand Repair

BAREFOOT VENUS Wild Flower Instant Hand Repair

This luscious hand repair cream (which also doubles as a foot cream!) is made with all kinds of skincare nutrients like shea butter, mango seed butter, olive oil, and soybean oil—to name a few. In fact, in 2018, BAREFOOT VENUS was voted IPSY's #1 hand cream brand for its regenerative ingredients and extra-strength protection against dehydration. "Smells so good and makes your skin feel silky smooth all day long," says one Ipster.

9. Best Gourmand-Scented Hand Cream:

CAKE BEAUTY Milk Made Velveteen Hand Cream

CAKE BEAUTY Milk Made Velveteen Hand Cream

This hand cream almost smells good enough to eat. On top of its jelly donut scent, this cream’s whipped, airy texture easily absorbs into your skin and leaves your hands feeling soft and smooth. Infused with soothing oat milk concentrate and marshmallow root extract, it's tailor-made for dry, cracked hands and cuticles. One Ipster says, “It’s such a lovely scent that you want to eat it! Works great!" Another writes, “Hydrating and rich without being greasy. Smells delicious also!”

10. Best Shea Butter Hand Cream:

L’OCCITANE Shea Butter Hand Cream

L’OCCITANE Shea Butter Hand Cream
Courtesy of L’OCCITANE

Some hand lotions boast a bit of shea butter here and there, but this rich hand cream from French skincare brand L’OCCITANE uses 20 percent of the powerhouse moisturizing ingredient. One dot is all you need to feel instantly softer and nourished hands that are also protected from environmental aggressors.

11. Most Protective Hand Cream:

KIEHL’S Ultimate Strength Hand Salve

KIEHL’S Ultimate Strength Hand Salve
Courtesy of KIEHL’S

This hand cream’s name says it all. KIEHL’S is not messing around when it comes to taking care of the skin on your hands. The thick, rich formula leaves your dry hand feeling soft, conditioner, and cared for all day thanks to a combination of shea butter, avocado oil, and sesame oil. The ingredients work almost like a glove, drawing and absorbing water from to air to create a protective barrier against moisture loss.

12. Best Fragrance-Free Hand Cream:

NEUTROGENA Norwegian® Formula Hand Cream

NEUTROGENA Norwegian® Formula Hand Cream
Courtesy of NEUTROGENA

Dr. Castilla advises against fragrance if you have sensitive skin, and this drugstore hand cream from Neutrogena checks all the right boxes. The highly concentrated formula gets to work fast to help heal your dry hands and improve their look and feel on contact. Plus, the long-lasting, glycerin-rich formula is totally fragrance free, so you won’t have any unnecessary irritation.

13. Best for Cracked Skin:

O’KEEFFE’S Working Hands Hand Cream

O’KEEFFE’S Working Hands Hand Cream
Courtesy of O’KEEFFE’S

If your hand’s natural skin barrier has been damaged so much that your hands have started cracking and hurting, this hard-working hand cream is exactly what you need. It’s specially formulas to create a protective barrier on your skin’s surface to help lock in the moisture it delivers (full of glycerin, stearic acid, and urea) and heal your achy hands.

14. Desktop Staple Hand Cream:

AESOP Resurrection Aromatique Hand Balm

AESOP Resurrection Aromatique Hand Balm
Courtesy of AESOP

Not only will this hand cream from AESOP look minimalist and chic sitting atop your desk (whether you work from home or in an office), but the greaseless finish and fast-absorbing formula means you can get back to replying to Slacks faster without leaving oils behind on your keyboard. Plus, the calming citrus, woody, and herbaceous scent will leave your coworkers (or pets!) equally as soothed every time you apply.

15. Longest-Lasting Hand Cream:

GOLD BOND Ultimate Healing Hand Cream

GOLD BOND Ultimate Healing Hand Cream
Courtesy of GOLD BOND

What if we told you that this hand cream has nourishing benefits that even last through washing your hands? We didn’t think it was possible, but GOLD BOND has proved us wrong. It contains seven essential moisturizers (including urea, glycerin, and aloe) as well as vitamin C to protect against environmental aggressors, vitamin B (including niacinamide) to improve the appearance of dark spots, and vitamin E to prevent moisture loss.

16. Best for Sensitive Skin:

LA ROCHE-POSAY Cicaplast Hand Cream

LA ROCHE-POSAY Cicaplast Hand Cream
Courtesy of LA ROCHE-POSAY

Yes, this hand cream will leave your dry (or even very dry!) hands feeling soft, smooth, and hydrated upon application, but it’s what it doesn’t do that makes it stand out even more. This rich lotion is free from parabens, fragrance, and allergens. It’s been dermatologist tested to make it totally safe for sensitive skin, eczema, and cold- or wind-worn hands.

Do you want to step up your entire skincare routine? Take our Beauty Quiz now to get started. Already an Ipster? Refer your friends to earn points, which you can use toward products. Either way, don’t forget to check us out on Instagram and Twitter @IPSY.

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Article Last Updated December 31, 2022 12:00 AM